Wendy Davis' Memoir Sheds Abortion Stigma, And It Matters
The Texas senator who was thrust into the national spotlight last year when she fiercely fought back against an onerous anti-abortion bill revealed that she has a very personal reason for her ardent pro-choice stance. In her upcoming memoir, state Sen. Wendy Davis discloses her own abortion experiences — one of which happened later in the pregnancy. It's the first time the Texas gubernatorial candidate has publicly discussed her abortion procedures.
According to The Associated Press, which obtained an early copy of her memoir Forgetting To Be Afraid, Davis had a late-term abortion 17 years ago after a prenatal test found that the fetus had a severe brain abnormality. Before deciding on terminating the pregnancy, Davis consulted with several different doctors, who told her that if the child survived, she would be blind, deaf and in a lifelong vegetative state.
Davis writes in her book:
I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do. She was suffering.
In an exclusive Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts, which will air Monday, Davis elaborated on her decision. "We knew that the most loving thing we could for our daughter was to say goodbye," Davis told Roberts.
The Texas politician added that she and her husband made the decision with "as much love possible." Even though some people may have opted to carry the pregnancy to term, Davis said she respects "that people make their own decisions," and that everyone should make a decision that's right for them and their families.
Two years before she had to make that difficult decision, Davis said she had an abortion to treat an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg plants outside the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies aren't viable, and can cause severe health complications for the woman. Although not always treated as an "abortion," Davis said the state of Texas considered it an abortion and "doctors have to report it as such."
Despite reading dozens of personal abortion stories submitted by Texas women during her 11-hour-long filibuster in June 2013, Davis decided not to disclose her own abortions then because she didn't want to take focus away from HB2, the stringent anti-abortion bill that eventually passed the senate. HB2, of course, is the package of abortion regulations that's closed nearly two dozen abortion clinics in Texas over the last year. The bill also placed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, which mostly affects women like Davis who need abortions for medical reasons.
Davis' revelation of her late-term abortion on the Texas Senate floor would've been a heart-stopping moment — for both the women cheering her on inside the chamber and the male, anti-choice politicians who repeatedly patronized her. It was not unusual during that filibuster for one of her male colleagues to attempt to "mansplain" pregnancy and abortion to Davis. I bet they would look a bit foolish now, huh.
Someone who also should feel foolish — and take back his words — is Gov. Rick Perry, who disparaged Davis after her historic filibuster. While speaking at an anti-abortion event, the governor chastised Davis for advocating for abortion rights when she herself chose life as a pregnant teen:
[Davis] was the daughter of a single woman. She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.
Well, Rick Perry, it looks like Davis is the one who has learned — that is, learned that people need to make the best decision possible for their lives, families and future without interference from the state.
With her memoir, Davis becomes the latest female politician to openly discuss her abortion. In light of the recent attacks on abortions rights at both the state and federal level, women such as Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, a rising Democratic star, have been using their personal experiences as a way to counteract disingenuous anti-abortion arguments inside the chamber — arguments often peddled by their male colleagues.
Although many people who are dead-set on outlawing abortion never change their viewpoints, it's tougher to debate when a woman who had an abortion is sitting right across from you within the House or Senate chamber. When female politicians bring their personal abortion stories into the fray, the "hypothetical woman who has an abortion" is no longer just a talking point that can be molded to fit a certain narrative; the hypothetical woman becomes human.
Statistics say one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Wendy Davis is one of them.
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